"I'd much rather see a pregnant woman standing up on a bus, than a fat girl sitting down, crying."
A character (usually male) overhears a conversation or finds some evidence that leads him to mistakenly believe another character is pregnant.
If the suspected pregnancy is with his love interest, he will freak out over the thought of being a father. The episode will be about his attempts to cope. He will have accepted the idea by the end, and will be mildly disappointed when he finds out that it was a false alarm.
If the suspected expecting woman does not have an established love interest, he will try to determine who the father is. Usually he will pinpoint some character that she has romantic tension with, but is not sleeping with. He will confront the suspected father, but will dance around the word "pregnant", leaving the suspect completely bewildered as to what's going on.
In any case, he will walk on eggshells around the not-so-expectant Mom, and will tell everyone except his suspects what he thinks is going on. This may lead to some One Drink Will Kill the Baby
moments as the poor woman wonders why everyone looks horrified that she's sipping at a glass of wine.
During the course of the episode, everyone will be convinced she is pregnant except for her.
In order for this trope to work, several characters have to be using the Idiot Ball
that week. Yet, it may be Truth in Television
An alternative is when a woman is assumed to be pregnant due to having what appears to be a sufficiently large, protruding stomach (which can lead to extreme awkwardness for obvious reasons), or displays quirks that could be mistaken for stereotypical "pregnancy traits", such as random bouts of vomiting
, extreme appetites and Wacky Cravings
. Pillow Pregnancy
is when a woman invokes this trope, usually on purpose, by concealing something under her clothes.
Contrast its inversion, Surprise Pregnancy
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Anime & Manga
- The end of Maison Ikkoku has Mitaka discover that "she" is pregnant. After a previous drunken night with his arranged fiancée Asuna he assumes that he got her pregnant, and vows to marry her to set things right. After he proposes and everything is set in stone, she decides on a dog's name for the new... puppy. Her dog had actually been the one knocked up by his dog. Though by that point Mitaka had grown fond of Asuna herself and later she's pregnant for real.
- Keitaro had to deal with this in Love Hina, when he and everyone else woke up to find Mutsumi sleeping naked in his futon with him. Mutsumi's comments about last night being great and the test being "positive" had even Keitaro himself thinking he knocked her up. Actually, she just fell through the hole in Naru's room, decided to sleep where she landed, and was referring to Keitaro's help in studying. When Keitaro expresses mild regret about the misunderstanding, of course, he's chased off by Naru (vowing to personally neuter him).
- In Silver Spoon, while passing through the school pigpens, Tokiwa overhears Hachiken and Yoshino having a solemn discussion about Hachiken needing to be a man and take responsibility for the mess he's caused. Only after Tokiwa has spread the news of Yoshino's teen pregnancy all over the school do the "happy couple" get to explain that they were discussing a piglet destined for slaughter that Hachiken had named and half-adopted as a pet.
- In one story of Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo, a woman has cancer. When she tries to tell her boyfriend (who is drunk) about it, she gets as far as saying she went to the doctors, before he thinks she's pregnant and kicks her out, not wanting responsibility and angrily thinking it could be someone else's kid. He realizes his mistake when the doctor calls, and apologizes while promising to help pay for the treatment.
- At some point in Detective Conan, Miwako Satou makes an off-hand comment to her boyfriend Wataru Takagi about something important being either lost or late. Cue to said boyfriend and their friends thinking she's missing her period and is likely pregnant. It was actually a ring that Takagi got her. As a corollary, this subtly confirms the Running Gag-like implications about Satou and Takagi being sexually active.
- A Gakuen Hetalia fic involves the Bad Touch Trio discovering that Chun Yan is binding her breasts, looking stressed, and hanging around the counsellor's office a lot, and assume she's trying to conceal a pregnancy. Chun Yan, a.k.a. Yao, is actually trying to transition to living as male.
- On the fandom's Kink Meme, there was a request for a fic in which a male nation believes he got his (male) partner pregnant. Fills were done for both Denmark/Norway and America/Lithuania. In both cases, Hilarity Ensues.
- In one of the Heralds of Valdemar novels, a court fashion of elaborate and extremely heavy veils (Which required the ladies wearing them to walk while leaning backwards to support the weight on their heads) met an abrupt end when a man new to the court asked the two ladies who started the fad when their babies were due.
- In a Sweet Valley High novel, the girls think their mother is expecting. Initially freaked out, they eventually decide that they'd love to be big sisters and decide to offer their mother support by going on and on about how nice it would be to have a baby around. The result is that their mother assumes one of THEM is pregnant. When they hurriedly correct her and tell her they were trying to be supportive of her, the trope is played twice when it turns out she isn't pregnant either.
Live Action TV
- Hal from Malcolm in the Middle does this to a prospective employer, rubbing her belly and playfully asking "Oh, and what have we heeeere?" to which the woman replies in mocking singsong that it's her big, fat stomach. Not surprisingly, the scene quickly jump cuts to Hal's next job interview.
- Three's Company did this at least four times ("Will The Real Jack Tripper...," "Stanley's Hotline," "And Baby Makes Four," "Jack Be Quick,") plus one episode ("And Baby Makes Two") where Janet was mistaken for trying to get pregnant.
- "The One With Chandler and Monica's Wedding" and "The One After 'I Do'". In this one, Phoebe found a positive pregnancy test and Rachel (whose test it was) allowed everyone to assume it was Monica's. Then when Phoebe learnt the truth, but Rachel still didn't want to tell anyone, she claimed she was the one who was pregnant. This leads to Joey proposing marriage so she won't have to go it alone.
- Played for comedy in another episode where Monica kept getting mistaken for preggers. She blames the baggy shirt she's wearing.
- Let's try to list all the times someone was mistaken for pregnant on Seventh Heaven: Annie by Eric, when she was really starting menopause; Sarah and Matt by their parents, when her period was just late; Ruthie by many in her school; two of Simon's girlfriends/fiancées by, one-by-one, everyone...
- Joan of Arcadia included an episode where Helen has a positive return on a pregnancy test. However, Luke finds the test, believes it's Joan's, and spends most of the episode panicking about being an uncle. As with Friends, unusual in that someone actually was pregnant (although the episode ends with Helen revealing she had her period that evening, indicating an early miscarriage). Or a false positive. They're fairly common.
- Niles half-hears a conversation between Daphne and Frasier about the need to keep Roz's pregnancy a secret, and concludes that Daphne is pregnant and Frasier is the father. Things escalate from there until he challenges his brother to a duel for Daphne's honor.
- Another episode has a pregnant Roz this close to talking her way out of a parking ticket due to her condition, until she mistakenly asks the female traffic cop when she's due. Roz readily accepts her ticket after that.
- An episode of I Love Lucy had Lucy and Ethel convinced that Ricky and Fred were about to join the army. They decide to show their support by knitting socks; Ricky and Fred notice them knitting and assume that both their wives are pregnant.
- Dads Army
- In a formerly Missing Episode in the entire cast mistakenly believes Mrs Pike is pregnant, when in fact she has arranged to take in an evacuee child. After its original broadcast in the 1970s, it received viewer complaints that the plot was too crude. A copy of this episode has been discovered and is included (along with the other surviving Season 2 episodes) on the Season 1 DVD.
- Also happens in another episode where the platoon thinks Mrs Mainwaring is pregnant after a misunderstanding between Mainwaring and Jones. Mainwaring sets them straight at the end of the episode.
- When Cousin Oliver is about to join The Brady Bunch, the rest of the family misunderstand Carol's "We're going to have an addition to the family" as meaning she is pregnant.
- Dinnerladies: Bren was mistakenly thought to be pregnant at one point because she refuses to donate blood during a blood drive, and later during the same episode mentions feeling dizzy and unwell. Turns out she just has a phobia of needles, and as she puts it, is very unlikely to be pregnant "unless sperm can get through sash windows".
- 3rd Rock from the Sun has Sally hanging out with pregnant women, much to the shock of Don, her love interest. According to Dick (who thinks the conversation is about shoes), "Pickles did it. Harry watched it happen."
- In the first season of Gossip Girl, this is the catalyst for Blair's social downfall. Serena covers for her to buy her a pregnancy test, so she is initially an example as well.
- Liz Lemon in the second season finale of 30 Rock mistakenly thinks she's pregnant, caused by eating one too many bags of Sabor de Soledad. It's played with in a scene when she goes through calendars, stating that she should cross off the days when she last had her period "like people do in movies." Jenna also discovers the positive pregnancy tests, and is distressed because "someone's going to get more attention than me!", and Dennis, the presumed father, hangs out in Liz's apartment (uninvited), listens to her voicemail, and immediately lays out his plans for the baby, such as naming it Morpheus.
- In a later episode of Boy Meets World, Topanga's decision to go on a diet is mistaken for pregnancy when Topanga refuses breakfast, can't fit into Cory's pants, and Cory later overhears her talking to Eric about "getting through this". (Though in actuality he's agreed to go on a diet as well, though he doesn't fare nearly as well as she does.)
- An episode of Mad About You took this a step further. Not only was the suspected mother not pregnant, she was a he.
- A scene in Are You Being Served? features the men mistaking Mrs. Slocombe for pregnant, when she's actually talking about her cat, who was impregnated by "that Burmese that lives in the next house".
- The second episode of Scrubs has a moment where JD is talking about Elliot's tendency to put her foot in her mouth when talking to people. One example is her turning to a woman sitting down and asking when her baby was due, to which the woman indignantly replies "What baby?"
- An episode of Bones had Cam worried that her adoptive daughter, Michelle, was pregnant due to a positive pregnancy test found in the trash. In actuality, it was Angela's test. And she wasn't pregnant after all, it was a false positive.
- Family Matters had a scene where Steve Urkel tries to complement a woman on her baby to be, only for the woman to correct him on that she is just fat.
- On The Nanny youngest daughter Grace (who is like 6 years old at the time) thinks she's pregnant due to misunderstanding the standard euphamisms Fran & Maggie use when talking about a character on a soap opera, who is pregnant. Grace and her "boyfriend" (male friend) "slept together" (they had a nap at the same time) which made her "late" (to a movie). The boy decides to do the right thing: marry Grace and find a job.
- The Munsters had an episode in which Herman and Grandpa manage to misinterpret Lily working on a birthday surprise for Herman and Marilyn planning to babysit a child as Lily being pregnant and holding out on them.
- In one episode of Seinfeld, Kramer mistakenly thinks a friend is pregnant and even after she states that she isn't, he still is not entirely convinced.
- Happens to Audrey in Rules of Engagement as the result of a poorly phrased remark about a pregnant co-worker. Finding she enjoys the special consideration being pregnant brings her at work, she tries desperately to actually become pregnant. When she eventually comes clean and tells her co-workers that she is not pregnant, they mistakenly interpret this to mean that she has had a miscarriage.
- In the first segment of the season three opener of Beyond Belief Fact Or Fiction, "Morning Sickness," a girl suffers symptoms of what her parents are convinced is pregnancy, despite a negative pregnancy test and the daughter's claims that she's still a virgin. At the hospital, doctors tell the parents that there's a tumor or cyst in the daughter's intestines, but during surgery to remove it, said tumor turns out to be a live baby octopus, resulting from when the daughter swallowed an octopus egg while swimming in the ocean. Thankfully, at the end of the episode, it's revealed that the story never happened, it's just a real popular urban legend.
- On That '70s Show Kitty mistakes herself to be pregnant, only for the doctor to discover it's menopause.
- On St. Elsewhere Helen Rosenthal was excited about what she thought was a mid-life pregnancy, but it turned out to be menopause.
- Blanche Devereaux from The Golden Girls mistook menopause for a pregnancy.
- On 18 to Life a positive pregnancy test keeps being misplaced and then found by someone else. By the end the three husbands believe that their wives are pregnant and the women think the same about each other. Turns out that the pregnancy test is actually really old and was kept as a keepsake by one of the women from her last pregnancy almost nine years ago.
- On Crownies Janet was keeping her pregnancy secret from the office. When Tracey found Janet's sonagram picture on Erin's desk (the picture having gotten caught up in some files Erin collected from Janet), Tracey leaps to the wrong conclusion regarding Erin.
- In 1971 Lisa on As the World Turns thought she was pregnant but it turned out to be an ovarian cyst.
- In The George Lopez Show, Angie took a pregnancy test, thought she was pregnant and told George. Initially stunned, George welcomes this development, but then Angie learns the first test was wrong. However, because George seemed so happy about having another child, Angie fakes it and tries to pregnant quickly to cover. George winds up getting Squicked out by having sex with a supposedly pregnant woman. When he hears the truth from someone else, he has a little fun with it.
"Oh, look! You're showing!"
- A particularly disturbing version happens in CSI. Catherine is interrogating the daughter of a murder suspect when the girl begins to lactate—a symptom which, coupled with the fact they just found evidence of the daughter sharing her father's bed, leads Catherine to suspect the worst. However, the medical examination reveals the girl is in fact a virgin, and her symptoms are the result of a "false pregnancy" brought on by a very extreme Electra complex.
- A lighter version on CSI: NY had Lindsay talking to Danny about being hungry and listing a bunch of foods she wanted him to bring her. Danny gives her a look, wondering if she's pregnant again, and she quickly responds that she isn't, she's just hungry.
- Averted and played straight for two different characters in an episode of Royal Pains. One character has some Wacky Cravings, and a friend immediately gets her a pregnancy test. However, the main characters see her buying the pregnancy test, and start making assumptions. However, this mistake causes them to realize their patient is pregnant.
- How I Met Your Mother:
- In one episode Marshall mentions that their mail person hates him because Marshall genuinely mistook him for a pregnant lady.
- A rather heartbreaking example comes when Robin thinks she's pregnant but her doctor tells her that not only is she not, she can't have children at all.
- Inverted on Desperate Housewives, when Susan was mistaken for being in menopause when she was actually pregnant.
- Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Dorothy thinks she's pregnant, but it's a menopause.
- Ally McBeal: Georgia thinks she's pregnant and they discuss it with Billy whether they're prepared to be parents. When they get excited about it, it turns out to be not a false alarm.
- In the Made In Canada episode "Office Rumours", office manager Wanda suggests to production adviser Veronica that she deal with the increasingly childish behaviour of the cast of Beaver Creek by getting a book on childcare. Her co-worker Richard overhears part of the conversation and concludes that Veronica is pregnant.
- In an episode of Bewitched, Louise suspects she is pregnant. She has told Samantha but no one else. Larry catches his wife and Samantha visiting the doctor together, draws the conclusion that Samantha is pregnant, and tells Darrin what he saw. Later as the four of them are having dinner together, when Louise broaches the subject, Larry kicks her under the table, then admonishes her that this is sensitive and personal information that Samantha should be the one to tell Darrin.
Samantha, excitedly: Darrin? Louise is going to have a baby!
- This happens in Gilmore Girls. Jackson is convinced that Sookie's mood swings and cravings are a sign that she's is pregnant. He finds out from Lorelai that Sookie decided to stop taking birth control and didn't tell Jackson, assuming that he had a vasectomy and that there was no chance of conceiving. Of course Jackson didn't get the vasectomy, but lied about it, and it turns out Sookie really is pregnant and is basically the last one to find out.
- In Sigma Star Saga, Recker finds himself worried that Psyme may be pregnant, even though as far as he knows, they've only kissed once. Turns out, she's not the one giving birth, her living symbiotic Powered Armor is. Sorta. Also not helped by the other Krill knowing perfectly well Recker's got no idea what's going on, and making good on this golden opportunity to screw with the earthman.
- This happened in UmJammer Lammy after the main character Lammy ate too much pizza.
- Junichi briefly worries that he may have gotten Kotori pregnant in Da Capo due to her rather distant attitude and avoidance of him lately. Turns out that when the cherry tree died she stopped being able to read minds and has never been able to read other's emotional cues, leaving her majorly stressed around family and friends.
- At least three separate Not Always Right stories deal with this trope.
- This woman, upon learning her mistake, inadvertently insults the "pregnant" lady in question.
- This person gets angry because they believe the woman is pawning off others by pretending to be pregnant.
- Finally, this woman appears a bit chunky because of a medical condition requiring her to take steroids, resulting in a person straight up rubbing her belly out of nowhere. She is not amused.
- Due to the above, Dave Barry once said in his column that you should never assume a woman is pregnant unless you see a baby coming out of her at that specific point in time…
- Jimmy Carr also made a joke about this. When asked why he refuses to give up his seat for a pregnant woman on public transport, his response was: It's better to see a pregnant woman standing up than a fat woman sitting down, crying.
- The various tabloid articles on baby rumors, showing photos of actresses who simply look like they exhaled.
- Women who are actually pregnant will sometimes invoke this trope when strangers start asking questions that are, quite frankly, none of their business ("How far along are you?" "Is it a boy or girl?" "When are you due?" etc.). This usually results in a very embarrassed person making a hasty exit much to the relief of the pregnant gal.
- Some women's bodies are naturally built so a lot of the weight in their body goes to their stomach, creating a slightly protruding belly even if they're not pregnant.
- An exchange from Disorderly Conduct, a book of legal humor (all from transcripts):
Counsel: Is there anything about your physical condition that might make it difficult for you to serve in this case?
Counsel: You don't have doctor's appointments today or the next couple of days?
Counsel: Do you have any physical problems with your pregnancy?
Juror: I'm not pregnant.
- Certain medical conditions also cause weight gain to be located in certain areas. Type II Diabetes causes people who have it to be trunk heavy. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which is also characterized with insulin resistance, causes unusual weight gain, particularly in the belly. It is also a leading cause of infertility, making any assumption that the woman is pregnant MUCH more painful than an implication on her weight.
- The so-called Flora Hastings Affair at the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign. The Queen accused one of her ladies-in-waiting to be pregnant and thus having lived a scandalous lifestyle. Flora Hastings' growing belly seemed to support the thesis until it turned out that she had had a tumour and died shortly afterward. The Queen's approval rating sank heavily after this and she had much apologizing to do.
- Tennis Hall of Famer and current broadcaster Todd Woodbridge learned the hard way to never speculate about a woman being pregnant when tennis star Kim Clijsters confronted him during the 2011 Australian Open about a text message that he sent.